Cannabis Extraction Equipment: A Guide to Ethanol, Hydrocarbon, CO2, and Solventless Extraction Methods
Cannabis extraction is the process of extracting cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis plants to produce extracts or concentrates, such as oils, waxes, shatter, and distillates. To achieve high-quality extracts, cannabis businesses must use reliable and efficient cannabis extraction equipment.
There are several methods to create cannabis extracts, each requiring specific equipment and each with their own benefits and limitations. In this blog post, we will discuss the four main types of cannabis extraction equipment: ethanol, hydrocarbon, CO2, and solventless extraction equipment.
Ethanol Extraction Equipment
Ethanol extraction involves using ethanol as a solvent to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis plants. The process involves soaking the plant material in ethanol and then filtering and separating the solvent to obtain the extract.
The soaking process is typically done in an extraction centrifuge, where biomass is soaked in ethanol. The cannabinoids and other compounds dissolve into the ethanol, creating a solution of cannabis compounds and ethanol. The solution of extract and solvent is then separated using an evaporator to remove the bulk of the solvent, then a decarboxylation reactor to ensure all of the ethanol is out of the concentrate.
Ethanol extraction is known for its ability to produce cannabis extracts at scale, making it a popular choice for large scale extractors producing full-spectrum extracts. However, the types of cannabis extracts that can be produced using ethanol extraction is limited to one product (crude oil), which limits its capabilities in comparison to other cannabis extraction equipment.
Hydrocarbon Extraction Equipment
Hydrocarbon extraction involves using hydrocarbons, such as butane or propane, as a solvent to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis plants. Similar to other extraction methods, the process involves passing the solvent through the plant material and then purging it to separate the extract from the solvent.
Hydrocarbon extraction is known for its ability to produce high-potency extracts with a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes, in a variety of different consistencies. However, using gas as a solvent requires specialized equipment and careful handling to ensure the safety of the extraction process. A leak or other accident in a hydrocarbon extraction system can be much more dangerous than in a liquid extraction method.
Hydrocarbon based cannabis extraction equipment provides the most versatility of any extraction equipment on the market. With its ability to produce a wide variety of extracts and the ability to scale production, hydrocarbon extraction is a great solution for extractors.
CO2 Extraction Equipment
CO2 extraction involves using carbon dioxide as a solvent to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis plants. The process involves pressurizing and heating the CO2 to create a supercritical or subcritical fluid that can extract the desired compounds from the plant material. The extract is then separated from the CO2 and purified.
CO2 extraction is known for its ability to produce high-quality extracts that are free of potentially harmful residual solvents and can be used to make a variety of products, from oils to vape cartridges. It is also a relatively safe and environmentally friendly extraction method. However, it requires specialized equipment and can be expensive to set up and operate, and does not provide affordable scalability.
Solventless Extraction Equipment
Solventless extraction involves the use of two different types of equipment. Rosin Presses use heat, pressure, or both to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis plants without the use of solvents. The process involves pressing or squeezing the plant material to extract the desired compounds.
Hash washing equipment uses cold water and ice to knock off trichomes from the plant material. Both methods have become increasingly popular over the last few years.
Solventless extraction is known for its ability to produce high-quality extracts that are free of residual solvents and preserve the natural flavors and aromas of the plant. It is also a very safe and environmentally friendly extraction method. However, it is not as efficient or as scalable as solvent-based methods and may not produce as high of a yield.
Cannabis Extraction Equipment
When it comes to cannabis extraction equipment, there are several options to choose from, each with its own benefits and limitations. Ethanol, hydrocarbon, CO2, and solventless extraction equipment all have their unique advantages and can be used to produce a variety of high-quality cannabis extracts.
As a cannabis business, it is important to carefully consider your extraction needs and choose the equipment that best meets your production goals and safety requirements. By understanding the differences between these four main types of extraction equipment, you can make an informed decision and take your cannabis extraction operations to the next level.